May 31, 2018

Salt producers accuse ‘encroachers’ of destroying wetlands

Salt producers in the Greater Accra Region are up in arms against encroachers they accuse of destroying wetlands and making salt production difficult.

Panbros Salt Industries Limited is located at Mendskrom, near Weija in the Ga South Municipality of Greater Accra. Michael Odartey-Wellington, its Managing Director, told the media that activities of encroachers – including the claiming of land for construction purposes in the nearby communities – have affected salt production, causing a sharp decline in volumes.

“We are between two communities; to the west is Gleffe and to the east is a community called Wiabormaa. Over the past few years, the wetlands have experienced rapid destruction from encroachers who are destroying the mangroves and also filling up the wetlands for the construction of buildings.

“As a result, the wetlands can no longer hold up overflows from the Lafa stream, and as a consequence of that our salt-works easily get flooded. Our production has seen a great decline. A few years back, we were able to produce 60,000MT of salt per annum; but today we are down to 25,000MT,” the MD said.

Mr. Odartey-Wellington made these revelations when the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, led a delegation to tour the Densu Delta Ramsar Site in the Ga South Municipal Assembly to mark the International Day for Biological Diversity observed annually on May 22.

As a result of the situation, the company is unable to meet market demand and has been forced to sell below the market price just to remain in business, he said.

He said: “Because we are unable to meet demand from the market, a lot of salt is now being imported into the country – and it has come to stay. Because of this, now, our prices are low. Five years ago, we were selling a 25kg bag of salt for GH₵10; today it is GH₵ 5. It is difficult, and we are not breaking even. Meanwhile, our input cost keeps going up.

“We engage about 700 to 1000 workers directly, and if this continues we will have no other option than to lay-off our workers. We could be down to maybe about 200 if this continues.”

He called on government and the relevant authorities to come to the aid of the salt industry, which according to him is suffering at the moment, as “there are a lot of salt-works that have folded-up for some of these reasons”.

He added: “It is our hope that in our celebration of the Biodiversity Day, urgent action will be taken to save the Densu Delta Wetlands and other such wetlands in Ghana”.

Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng assured that measures will be taken to salvage the situation. He noted that his team will set up a committee soon to strategise on how to address the matter at hand.

He therefore called on people of the communities around wetlands in the country to desist from activities that mar the purpose for which the sites are designated.

“The sustainable use of wetlands is critical to enable society achieve sustainable social and economic development, adapt to climate change and improve social cohesion and economic stability.

“The proposed UN SDGs offer a universal agenda that, for the first time, recognises the need for restoration and management of water-related ecosystems, including wetlands, as a basis for addressing water scarcity, water-risks and sustainable food security and livelihoods,” the minister added.

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